Skip to main content

Full text of "The Jesuits and politics in time of war : a self-appraisal"

See other formats


The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War 
A Self-Appraisal 

Robert Bireley, S J. 

BX3701 .S88x 

Studies in the spirituality of Jesuits 

Issue: v.34:no.5(2002:Nov.) 

Arrival Date: 12/06/2002 

O'Neill Periodicals 

34/5 • NOVEMBER 2002 


The Seminar is composed of a number of Jesuits appointed from their provinces in the 
United States. 

It concerns itself with topics pertaining to the spiritual doctrine and practice of 
Jesuits, especially United States Jesuits, and communicates the results to the members of 
the provinces through its publication, STUDIES IN THE SPIRITUALITY OF JESUITS. This is 
done in the spirit of Vatican II's recommendation that religious institutes recapture the 
original inspiration of their founders and adapt it to the circumstances of modern times. 
The Seminar welcomes reactions or comments in regard to the material that it publishes. 

The Seminar focuses its direct attention on the life and work of the Jesuits of 
the United States. The issues treated may be common also to Jesuits of other regions, to 
other priests, religious, and laity, to both men and women. Hence, the journal, while 
meant especially for American Jesuits, is not exclusively for them. Others who may find 
it helpful are cordially welcome to make use of it. 


Robert L. Bireley, S.J., teaches history at Loyola University, Chicago, IL (2001). 
Richard A. Blake, S.J., is chairman of the Seminar and editor of STUDIES; he teaches 

film studies at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA (2002). 
Claudio M. Burgaleta, S.J., is executive director of Estudios Pastorales para la Nueva 

Evangelizacion, in Oceanside, NY (2002). 
James F. Keenan, S.J., teaches moral theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, 

Cambridge, MA (2000). 
Lawrence J. Madden, S.J., directs the Georgetown Center for Liturgy, Washington, 

DC (2001). 
Douglas W Marcouiller, S.J., teaches economics at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, 

MA (2000). 
G. Ronald Murphy, S.J., teaches German language and literature at Georgetown 

University, Washington, DC (2001). 
Thomas R O'Malley, S.J., is associate dean of arts and sciences and teaches in the 

honors program at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA (2000). 
Thomas R Rausch, S.J., teaches theology at Loyola Marymount University, Los 

Angeles, CA (2002). 
William R. Rehg, S.J., teaches philosophy at St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO 


The opinions expressed in STUDIES are those of the individual authors thereof. 
Parentheses designate year of entry as a Seminar member. 

Copyright © 2002 and published by the Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality 

Publication Office Editorial Office 

Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits Faber House 

3601 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 102 College Road 
(Tel. 314-977-7257; Fax 314-977-7263) Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3841 

(E-mail (Tel. 617-552-0860; Fax 617-552-0925) 


The Jesuits and Politics 
in Time of War 

A Self-Appraisal 

Robert Bireley, S.J. 


34/5 • NOVEMBER 2002 

The first word . . . 

"Human kind cannot bear very much reality," T. S. Eliot tells us. How true. I spent 
a good deal of the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks avoiding television and the 
newspapers. At first I thought this was a still-moist wound exclusively on the psyche 
of us New Yorkers, but commentators since the anniversary have assured me that the 
sense of emptiness extends far beyond that aching cavity at Ground Zero in Lower 
Manhattan. Grief knows no city limits. People around the world endured the com- 
memoration as though the bandages had been torn back and they could once more 
measure the scab. 

In the way of humans, we mark anniversaries in our struggle to understand 
"what might have been and what has been," to cite Eliot again. Through selective 
recollection, we construct networks of cognitive association to make sense out of a 
world of seemingly infinite complexity. In our unending search for meaning, we 
create personal, private, internal symbols from public things, persons, and events. 
The videotape retells the story, again and again and again. Historians, economists, 
and theologians have offered explanations. Statesmen, generals, and demagogs propose 
solutions. We've listened to the many voices, bewildered, and the search goes on. A 
year and some days after the flame and rubble, what did it mean, for me, for us? 
Where are the symbols? 

In many ways, September 11 represented a violent rupture in the pattern of my 
conceptual, psychic, and even spiritual universe. In one morning's work, nineteen 
men, vassals of death, challenged both my, our, American faith in progress and my, 
our, Christian optimism. These are the twin towers of American Jesuits. Now, any 
naive assumptions about their inviolability have been summarily stripped away. We 
labor through long hours because we believe our work will make the world a bit 
better for our trouble. But now we've been tempted to recognize that the world 
doesn't seem much the better for our efforts. 

I've always believed that progress was the norm, and regression the aberration. 
My experience as an a American, a Christian, and a Jesuit holds nothing out of the 
ordinary for people of my age. Early childhood recollections hold dim memories of 
the end of the Second World War. German bombers and submarines no longer 
threatened the Brooklyn Navy Yard and my home. Absent family members would 
soon come home. No more blackouts, rationing cards, and war-bond drives in 
school. Nuremberg seemed to offer the promise that such crimes against humanity 
were but a raucous interlude in the symphony of civilizations. Never again such 
wanton, systematic death. The brute in the species had been tamed. It would surely 
be a better world. 

Communism, the Cold War, and the hydrogen bomb soon darkened the hori- 
zon once more; but in time sanity prevailed: non-proliferation, disarmament, and 
eventually the Berlin Wall in ruins, a wrecked monument to an ill-conceived eco- 


nomic fantasy. Colonialism in Africa and Asia evaporated in a few short years. 
Dictatorships and instability were little more than growing pains in a maturing world 
body politic. Democracy replaced military rule in nation after nation in Latin Amer- 
ica. Surely, a better world awaited us just around the next bend in the road. 

One of the few periodicals allowed in our juniorate was Blueprint for the South. I 
knew about Jackie Robinson's coming to the Dodgers, but at age nineteen, I hadn't 
really thought much about universal human dignity. Blueprint drew back the curtain 
on that darkened cloister with its descriptions of lunch-counter sit-ins. Dr. King and 
the civil-rights act followed. Now— with some exceptions, of course — Americans 
argue questions of racial equality in terms of how and when, not whether. A better 
world, without doubt. 

The first repercussions of Vatican II started to vibrate through the Church by 
the time I reached theology. Enthusiasm bred excess, of course, as many of us per- 
ceived even then; but the Church had embarked on an exciting venture, and being 
part of it made us a privileged generation. Teilhard told us that all things would 
converge at the Omega Point, and we could feel the irresistible force moving the 
world ahead in our lifetimes. It would just take time for a new generation (Ken- 
nedy's term) to enact the spirit of the council; but within a few years lay men and 
women, representatives of all peoples and cultures would assume their rightful place 
among the "people of God." Better, yes, without question, and soon, we believed. 

Of course, there would be problems. Few could doubt that, but these would be 
so many detours on the road to a better future. In the 1960s, Marshall McLuhan told 
us about a "global village" built on radio and television waves. By the 1970s it 
seemed clear that a proliferation of media would bring fragmentation rather than 
unity. Today, patrons of Voice of America and Al Jazeera might be living not in 
different villages but in distant galaxies. The Internet shows the hate-filled how to 
make bombs to kill at random and the lonely how to find child pornography to 
defile the innocent. 

Who would have imagined a year ago that so many priests would be involved in 
this vile business? Conservatives blame much of the problem on the upheaval that 
followed the council; liberals feel that the Church failed to follow through on the 
logic of its own reforms; both recognize that we have come face to face with an evil 
that dwells within the people of God. Sadly, it took the secular press to bring us to 
our knees, the posture of atonement, shared by dispirited innocent and guilty alike. 
Repentance precedes the cleansing. 

The traumas of the Vietnam War and Watergate, horrible as they were, ended 
our gullibility, but gave rise to cynicism. Press and public would be slow to believe 
officials again. Perhaps, on the whole, we were better off having lived through a 
generation of deception. After the Holocaust, the human race could never permit 
genocide, but then came Kosovo and Rwanda. Dresden, Hiroshima, and London put 
an end to ^discriminate killing of civilians to achieve political ends; the Khmer 
Rouge were merely an aberration. So are the tragically squandered suicide bombers in 
Israel. Maybe those people who were blowing up shopping malls in Northern Ireland 
are distant, unknown cousins. Contempt for innocence knows no national bound- 
aries. It touches all of us. 


So at last the point: the months after September 11 led me— and I suspect many 
others— to reexamine some basic premises of Jesuit life: our faith in progress and 
optimism. It was a quiet trauma— not a violent wound, but a chilling at the core of 
the soul. Perhaps, after these days one might reasonably conclude as we look over 
the checkerboard of recent history that evil is the predominant pattern of the world, 
and the indisputable triumphs of wisdom and justice mere dots of light on a dark 
fabric, illusions of progress. Is our vast fellowship really moving toward its Omega 
Point, as we had always believed, or do we now have reason to doubt? Is ours a 
generation of progress, with many troublesome regressions, or is it a generation of 
chaos with occasional triumphs to keep us going? . . . 

Eliot entertains similar grim thoughts: "Time and the bell have buried the day, 
the black cloud carries the sun away." The sentiments are grim but real, and I suspect 
that they are shared by many in this dark season. If my suspicion has any basis in 
fact, then our understanding of several key meditations in the Spiritual Exercises 
shifts dramatically. The dark side of the invitation in the Kingdom (nos. 93-97), the 
survey of the world in the Incarnation (nos. 103-8) and the realm or Satan in the 
Two Standards (nos. 140-142) cannot be regarded as an exercise of the imagination 
used to set up the contrast with the rule of God. These days they are the reality that 
retreatants taste and touch and hear. The movement from the First Week to the 
Second and from the Third to the Fourth, it seems, could require a great deal more 
effort for us Americans than they once did. Hope comes with a heavy price tag. 

I ask, then, a question and invite a response from readers. Have our making and 
giving the Exercises, our counseling and directing, our prayer and our ministry 
changed in the months since the towers fell? How could they not? 

Eliot once again points in the direction of an answer: 

Love is the unfamiliar Name 
Behind the hands that wove 
The intolerable shirt of fire 
Which human power cannot remove. 

Richard A. Blake, SJ. 


Introduction l 

The Thirty Years War 2 

Jesuit Court Confessors 5 


Lamormaini, Contzen, and the Catholic Offensive in Germany ... 10 

France 14 

Spain 15 

Reversal of Fortune in Germany 16 

Gans and Vervaux, New Confessors in Vienna and Munich 19 

The Eighth General Congregation, 1645-1646 20 

Conclusion 28 


Robert Bireley, S.J., is professor of history at Loyola Univer- 
sity Chicago, where he has taught since 1971. He is the author of four 
books, most recently The Refashioning of Catholicism, 1450-1700: A 
Reassessment of the Counter Reformation (London: Macmillan and 
Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1999). He has 
been a Guggenheim Fellow (1983) and a resident fellow at the Insti- 
tute for Advanced Study, Princeton (1986-87) and the National 
Center for the Humanities, Research Triangle Park, N.C. (1998-99). 
His Jesuits and the Thirty Years War: Kings, Courts, and Confessors is 
scheduled for publication in early 2003 by Cambridge University 


The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War 

A Self-Appraisal, 1645-1646 

By consciously adopting a spirituality of engagement 
with the world, Jesuits have often labored on that ill- 
defined frontier where politics and religion meet and 
overlap. In times of war especially, national loyalties 
and diverse perceptions of the greater good often 
divide us. During the Thirty Years War, Jesuits as- 
signed to serve as confessors to rival princes were 
inevitably drawn into the politics of the court. The 
ongoing efforts by the Jesuit General, the Pope, and 
the Eighth General Congregation to offer clear guide- 
lines show how difficult it is to find a formula that satis- 
fies everyone. Is it any different in our time? 


The controversies generated by Jesuit involvement in politics extend 
over many pages of history and have not yet been resolved. Surely it is 
inevitable that controversies would arise, given the Society's charism and 
mission to serve others in the world. Religion and politics were much more 
closely interwoven in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries than they are 
today. Jesuits in the pre-Suppression era often exercised political influence 
through contacts with monarchs or princes, ministers and courtiers, rather 
than through the democratic processes and popular movements that charac- 
terize politics in many countries today. Not infrequently enemies accused 
Jesuits of being "powers behind the throne" or engaging in conspiracies like 
the infamous Gunpowder Plot in England in 1605 to blow up the Houses of 
Parliament and assassinate the king. 1 

Antonia Fraser gives a judicious account of events in her Faith and Treason: 
The Story of the Gunpowder Plot (New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1996). 

2 * Robert Bireley, S.J. 

In our own day Jesuit political activity of various kinds has stirred 
controversy within and outside the Society. Superiors asked Fr. Robert 
Drinan, S.J., to surrender his seat in the U.S. Congress as a representative 
from Massachusetts after he had served in that body from 1971 to 1981. 
Jesuits in Central America were charged with undue intervention in politics 
in the 1970s and 1980s. The Complementary Norms of 1995 inform us that 
"[a]ny realistic desire to engage in the promotion of justice in our mission 
will mean some kind of involvement in civic activity; but this will make our 
preaching of the Gospel more meaningful and its acceptance easier." 2 Jesuits 
are summoned to labor "to infuse Christian principles into public life," and 
to participate in "social mobilization," not, however, to engage in "partisan 
politics." In "truly exceptional circumstances," Father General may grant 
permission for a Jesuit to hold a position in government, a political party, or 
a labor union. 3 

This essay looks at how the Society dealt with political activi- 
ties of Jesuits at a crucial juncture in its history. It can instruct us about the 
opportunities, the pitfalls, and the ambiguities associated with Jesuit involve- 
ment in politics, and it suggests that we cannot expect to avoid disagree- 
ments among Jesuits about political activity and political programs. 

The Thirty Years War 

Perhaps at no other time did Jesuit involvement in politics come to 
the fore as an issue to such an extent as it did during the Thirty Years War, 
when Jesuit confessors of princes enjoyed what was probably their greatest 
political influence. Indeed, allegations from this period that Jesuits exercised 
power from behind the scenes did not lack substance. The Thirty Years War 
was the first European-wide war, engulfing as it did all the major European 
states, except England and Russia, as well as many of the lesser principalities. 
Only the momentous Peace of Westphalia of 1648 brought the war to a 
close, after five years of negotiations at the first general European peace 
conference. 4 Jesuits were to be found especially as confessors and preachers at 
Catholic courts in Vienna, Munich, Paris, and Madrid, and they often 
closely identified with the interests of the courts. Muzio Vitelleschi, a native 

2 The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus and Their Complementary Norms: A 
Complete English Translation of the Latin Text (St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 
1996), no. 249 (p. 275). 

3 Ibid., no. 301 (pp. 309 f). 

4 Two solid treatments of the Thirty Years War are Geoffrey Parker, The Thirty 
Years War, 2 ed. (London and New York, 1997), and Ronald G. Asch, The Thirty Years 
War: The Holy Roman Empire and Europe, 1618-48 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997). 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •$• 3 

Roman and superior general at the time, faced the task of maintaining unity 
in the Society at this time of nascent "national spirit," a term that often 
appears in his correspondence. 

Complexity of cause and effect obviously characterized a war of 
such duration and magnitude. Religion undoubtedly played a major role in 
the conflict, but not necessarily the predominant one — and certainly not in 
the later years of the war. The war comprised and mingled three basic 
conflicts. First, the German conflict embroiled the numerous near-sovereign 
principalities and cities of the Holy Roman Empire, virtually coextensive 
with Germany, in knotty religious and constitutional issues. The Peace of 
Augsburg (1555) had legalized Lutheranism in Germany, thus allowing two 
Christian confessions in the empire. But the peace agreement left room for 
differing interpretations, especially regarding rights to Church property and 
to freedom of worship. Eventually, these differences spilled over into legal, 
political, and then military confrontations. Protestant and Catholic defensive 
alliances formed. 

The second conflict pitted the Dutch against the Spanish in the 
Eighty Years War for Dutch Independence. The Twelve Years Truce of 1609 
lapsed in 1621, and last-minute efforts to prolong it failed; so the conflict in 
the Netherlands merged with the German war. 

Finally, the Bourbon Most Christian King of France challenged the 
Habsburg Most Catholic King of Spain's predominance in Europe in a 
rivalry that had cast its shadow over Europe since the late fifteenth century. 
Gradually, the France of Louis XIII (1615-42), with Cardinal Richelieu as 
first minister (1624-42), achieved an ascendancy over its competitor. 

Historians have frequently divided the war into four phases. The 
first opened with the Defenestration of Prague in 1618, when an organized 
Protestant mob pushed their 

way up the staircase of the ^ ^ _^^^^^^^^^^_ 
Hradschin Castle, grabbed 

three government officials sus- In " tru b exceptional circumstances," 

pected of encouraging a policy Father General may grant permission 
of re-Catholicizing Bohemia for a Jesuit to hold a position 

and fostering absolutism in in government, a political party, 

that land; the intruders or a labor union. 

pitched the ministers out the 
window to certain death, as 
the assailants thought. But all 

three landed— miraculously as Catholics claimed— on a dung heap and walked 
away unhurt. The incident provoked a rebellion in Bohemia, as it was meant 
to do, which spread to neighboring Habsburg lands in Austria and Hungary. 

4 •!• Robert Bireley, SJ. 

As princes intervened on either side, the war expanded into Ger- 
many, where it brought to the boiling point the long-simmering dispute 
between Catholics and Protestants over the interpretation of the Peace of 
Augsburg. During this second, German, phase from 1625 to 1630, Catholic 
forces led by Maximilian, elector of Bavaria (1598-1651), and the Habsburg 
emperor Ferdinand II (1619-37), won a clear upper hand after occupying 
much of central and northern Germany by early 1628. As a result, Ferdi- 
nand issued the controversial Edict of Restitution in March 1629, unilaterally 
ordering the return to the Catholics of all the Church lands that the Protes- 
tants had seized — illegally, as the Catholic claimed — since 1555. Had this 
measure been fully implemented, it would have transferred an enormous 
amount of property from Protestants to Catholics and greatly weakened 
many smaller Protestant principalities. 

The invasion of Germany in 1630 by the Swedish king, Gustavus 
Adolphus, the Protestant Lion of the North, launched the third, Swedish, 
phase of the war, from 1630 to 1635. Supported by France, Gustavus came, 

he declared, to protect his fellow Protes- 
^^™^^~^^~^^^^^^^^~ tants from Habsburg tyranny. The two 

. Protestant states hitherto loyal to the em- 

In the Constitutions Igna- nat .^ v.^^a^u,,^ «„a q.,™^, «™, ..« 

* peror, brandenburg and baxony, now un- 

tius affirmed the Society s jer p ressure we nt over to Gustavus, and 

need to obtain "the good he defeated the Catholic forces decisively 

will and charity of all, at Breitenfeld near Leipzig in September 

. . . especially of those 1631. This battle reversed the whole course 

whose favorable or unfa- of the war, allowing the Swedes to occupy 

vorable attitude toward it large areas of west and south Germany, 

is of great importance for including most of Bavaria. The Battle of 

Opening or closing the Nordlingen in September 1634 reestab- 

gate leading to the service llsh ^ d * balan , ce between the two sides and 

r /-> j j a t t resulted in the Peace of Prague of 1635, 

of God and the 9ood , . . , , , , , • r r i 

r . „ which brought back to the side or the em- 

' ' peror nearly all the German Protestant 

states at the price of Catholic concessions 

regarding the terms of the Edict. A minor 
conflict between Spain and France from 1628 to 1631, each seeking to 
bolster its position in northern Italy, foreshadowed the final, or French, 
phase of the war. 

This last phase, from 1635 to 1648, saw the French join openly with 
their Swedish and German Protestant allies. Gradually, the Franco-Swedish 
armies prevailed in the field, and the long negotiations from 1643 to 1648 
resulted in the Peace of Westphalia. 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •$• 5 

Jesuit Court Confessors 

In 1615 the Seventh General Congregation of the Society elected as 
its superior general Muzio Vitelleschi, a native Roman and the first general 
from a region not under the control of Spain. He was to govern the Society 
until 1645. In early 1617, shortly after his election and just before the 
outbreak of the war, in his first circular letter to all Jesuits, Vitelleschi 
declared that he found the Society to be in essentially sound health, "ro- 
bust," as he put it. But one concern was the complaint often heard that 
Jesuits were "more prudent men, men of politics (politicos) than solidly 
spiritual." 5 Not mentioned directly in the letter was Jesuit involvement in 
politics, but this had already become an issue. 

The first Jesuit to serve as confessor to a prince had taken up his 
task at the command of Ignatius himself. In 1552 King John III of Portugal 
requested a regular confessor. In spite of their initial reluctance, Ignatius 
directed one of two Portuguese Jesuits, Diego Miron or Luis Goncalves da 
Camara, to assume the responsibility. He gave two reasons. First, the Society 
ought to administer the sacraments to those of high as well as low station, 
and especially in this case, because King John supported the ministries of the 
young Society to an unusually generous degree. Ignatius also hoped to secure 
assistance for a further Jesuit project, a mission to Ethiopia. Second, and 
more significant, the greater good and service of God called for acceptance of 
the position. "For all members of the body share in the advantage of the 
head, and all subjects in that of their rulers. So the spiritual help given to 
Their Highnesses should be esteemed more valuable than that given to other 
people." Nor should the concomitant dangers, in this case the allurements of 
the court, deter Jesuits from assuming such positions. God would protect 
them against temptations provided they sincerely sought to serve him, and 
courtiers would recognize that they did not pursue offices or honors for 
themselves. 6 

Subsequently, in the Constitutions Ignatius affirmed the Society's 
need to obtain "the good will and charity of all, . . . especially of those 
whose favorable or unfavorable attitude toward it is of great importance for 
opening or closing the gate leading to the service of God and the good of 
souls." A prince could greatly foster or easily thwart ministry in his lands. 
But at the same time "there should neither be nor be seen partiality to one 

5 Jan. 2, 1617, Epistolce Quattuor Adm. R.P.N. Mutii Vitelleschi (n.p., n.d.), 1-24. 

Letter of Ignatius Loyola to Diego Miron, Feb. 1, 1553, in St. Ignatius of 
Loyola: Personal Writings, trans, and ed. Joseph A. Munitz and Philip Endean 
(Harmondsworth, 1996), no. 30 (pp. 248-50); Bernhard Duhr, Die Jesuiten an den deutschen 
Furstenhofen des 16. Jahrhunderts (Freiburg, 1901), 2f. 

6 •$• Robert Bireley, SJ. 

side or another among Christian princes or rulers, but in its stead a universal 
love which embraces in our Lord all parties." 7 Furthermore, the Constitu- 
tions also summoned Jesuits "to abstain as far as possible from all secular 
employments," so that they might devote themselves more fully to the 
spiritual pursuits of their vocation. 8 What was to happen when princes, 
benefactors, or family members pressed Jesuits to engage in secular and 
especially political matters? 

Problems were not slow to arise as the Society rapidly expanded. 
The Fifth General Congregation of 1593-94 issued a general decree on Jesuit 
involvement in politics. By then a few members of the Society had figured 
in the French Religious Wars from 1562 onwards and in the mounting of 
armadas against the English. 9 "No Jesuit," the decree read, "was for any 
reason to dare or presume to become involved in the public and secular 
affairs of princes which have to do with, as they say, reason of state." Nor 
were they to deal with political matters, no matter who might urge them to 
do so. The canonical penalties for violation of the decree were ineligibility to 
hold office in the Society and, if one already did hold office, removal from 
office and deprivation of the right to vote within the Society. 10 Some were 
not happy with this decree. The Italian Antonio Possevino challenged the 
General, Aquaviva, on the issue. He had himself undertaken a number of 
diplomatic missions for the Pope, and he now drew up a paper containing 

7 Saint Ignatius of Loyola, The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, ed. with a 
commentary by George E. Ganss, S.J. (St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1970), no. 
823 f. (p. 337). 

Ibid., no. 591 (p. 263). The direct topic here is acting as "executors of wills" or 
"procurators of civil affairs" rather than political involvement. The Constitutions did allow 
for exceptions; e.g. see no. 592 (p. 264). 

See, for example, A. Lynn Martin, Henry III and the Jesuit Politicians (Geneva: 
Droz, 1973), and John Bossy, "The Heart of Robert Persons," in The Reckoned Expense: 
Edmund Campion and the Early English Jesuits, ed. Thomas M. McCoog, S.J. (Rochester, 
N.Y.: Boydell Press, 1996): 141-58; and Francisco de Borja Medina, "Intrigues of a Scottish 
Jesuit at the Spanish Court: Unpublished Letter of William Crichton to Claudio Aquaviva 
(Madrid, 1590-1592), in Bossy, Heart of Robert Persons, 215-48. 

". . . ne, scilicet, quispiam publicis et saecularibus Principum negotiis, quae ad 
rationem status, ut vocant, pertinent, ulla ratione se immiscere, nee etiam, quantumvis per 
quoscumque requisitus aut rogatus, ejusmodi politicas res tractandi curam suscipere audeat 
vel praesumat," in Institutum Societatis Iesu (hereafter InstST), 3 vols. (Florence, 1893), 2:288, 
d. 79; the corresponding canon 12 (p. 547) repeated virtually the same words; Duhr, Die 
Jesuiten, 4f. See For Matters of Greater Moment: The First Thirty Jesuit General 
Congregations: A Brief History and a Translation of the Decrees (hereafter Matters), ed. and 
trans. John W. Padberg, S.J., Martin D. O'Keefe, S.J., and John L. McCarthy, S.J. (St. 
Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1994), 200, 214. 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •!• 7 

more than twenty examples that, he contended, proved that the decree was 
not consonant with the Society's practice. 11 Jesuits themselves were obvi- 
ously not of one mind about political involvement. 

Under continued pressure, Aquaviva in 1602 published an Instruc- 
tion for Confessors of Princes, which the Sixth General Congregation of 1608 
ratified, thus making it the official position of the Society. 12 The document 
laid down norms for the confessor's style of life. He was ordinarily to reside, 
for example, in a Jesuit community. But its principal goal was to secure for 
the Society the advantages 

accruing from a position as ~"^^^^^^^^~ 

court confessor while avoiding O ne concern was the complaint often 

the disadvantages. This goal heard that Jesuits were "more prudent 
was difficult enough to meU) men f po U t i cs (politicos) than 

achieve in theory, let alone to $o/fV// spirituaL » 

implement in practice. The 

key passage was ambiguous. — ^^^— ^^— ^^^— ^^^^^^^^^^^— 
The confessor, it read, "should 

be careful lest he become involved in external and political matters, mindful 
of what the Fifth General Congregation had severely prohibited . . . ; he 
should deal only with those affairs which pertain to the conscience of the 
prince or are related to it, or to certain pious works." 13 But how could one 
remove from the domain of conscience all "external and political matters?" 
Furthermore, the confessor was to avoid even the appearance of exercising 
political power, for such perceptions severely harmed the Society. At all 
costs he was to shun entanglements in princely rivalries or among factions at 

Aquaviva's instruction long served as the principal document issued 
by the Society as a norm for confessors of princes. The Seventh General 

"Dubii proposti dal P. Possevino l'anno 1594 circa il decreto del non trattar 
cose di stato," Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu (henceforth, ARSl), Congregationes 20b, 
fT. 342-44. I am grateful to Father Laszlo Szilas, S.J., of the Jesuit Historical Institute in 
Rome, who called my attention to this document and provided me with a transcription of 
it. For one of Possevino's diplomatic missions, see John Patrick Donnelly, S.J., "Antonio 
Possevino, S.J., as Papal Mediator between Emperor Rudolf II and King Stephan Bathory," 
Archivum historicum Societatis Iesu 69 (2000): 3-56. 

"De Confessariis Principum," InstSI 3:281-4, 2:297; see Padberg et al, Matters, 
226, d. 21. 

"Caveat, ne se implicet externis negotiis ac politicis, memor eorum quae a 
quinta Congregatione generali severissime praescribuntur canone 12 et 13; sed in ea solum 
incumbat, quae ad Principis conscientiam pertinent, vel ad illam referuntur, aut in alia 
certa pia opera" (InstSI 3:282, n. 4). 

8 * Robert Bireley, SJ. 

Congregation of 1615, which elected Vitelleschi, tried to clarify what was 
meant by "external and political matters." "Examples can be," the congrega- 
tion stated, citing responses of Aquaviva to queries, "what bears upon 
treaties of princes among themselves, or rights and successions to thrones, or 
foreign or civil wars." The Jesuit was prohibited from being "involved in 
public consultations or negotiations about these or similar issues." 14 This last 
provision appeared to allow for advice that was given to a prince in confes- 
sion itself or in a private forum. Vitelleschi himself soon was called upon to 
interpret and to attempt to enforce Aquaviva's instruction in the upheaval of 
the Thirty Years War. 

As confessor of the ruler, a Jesuit belonged to the court but not to 
the government, a distinction often without clear boundaries in the seven- 
teenth century. The function of the confessor was not clearly defined apart 
from regularly hearing the prince's sacramental confession. Obviously closed 
to us is what was said under the seal of confession, but it is unlikely that the 
counsel that a confessor gave in this forum differed from that provided 
elsewhere. The confessor did enjoy regular access to the center of power, a 
coveted privilege. His own personality and convictions, even more so those 
of the prince, and sometimes other circumstances, determined the extent of 
his influence. Emperor Ferdinand III (1637-57) differed greatly in this respect 
from his father, Ferdinand II; he paid much less heed to his confessor, which 
does not amount to saying that he was less religious. Cardinal Richelieu 
attempted to exercise control over the confessors of Louis XIII in France 
(1610-43), and several times he arranged for their dismissal. 

Vitelleschi's Policy 

To follow Vitelleschi and the court confessors through the war is 
not possible within the limits of this essay. 13 We can only note a few 

From early on, the General established as a principle that political 
activity in the interests of the Church was not only allowed but to be 

14 InstSI 2:332, d. 46; 2:553, canon 13; Padberg et al., Matters, 267, d. 46. 

3 1 will spare the reader by using footnotes sparingly. Those interested in 
further documentation may consult my Maximilian von Bayern, Adam Contzen, S.J. und 
die Gegenreformation in Deutschland, 1624-1635 (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 
1975), Religion and Politics in the Age of the Counterreformation: Emperor Ferdinand II, 
William Lamormaini, S.J., and the Formation of Imperial Policy (Chapel Hill: University of 
North Carolina Press, 1981), and 77?e Jesuits and the Thirty Years War (awaiting 

The correspondence of Father General Vitelleschi is found in the ARSI. 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •!• 9 

encouraged. He stated this clearly when on June 29, 1621, he instructed the 
Spanish royal preacher, Jeronimo de Florencia, to intervene at court in order 
to secure religious freedom for the Catholics of the Valtelline, a territory in 
the Swiss Alps contested by Catholic and Protestant factions. Although 
involvement with matters of reason of state was normally foreign to the 
religious vocation, he wrote, when it was a question of preserving the faith 
or advancing the neighbor's spiritual good or the glory of God, then the 
Jesuit in a position to do so not only could but was obliged to intervene in 
political matters. The contest with heretics justified intervention in politics 
by the Jesuit court confessors. 

Even regarding issues where the interests of the Church were not 
directly in play, Vitelleschi recognized the wide overlap in practice of 
matters of politics and matters of conscience, and he permitted and even 
advocated action by court confessors where this was the case. In response to 
a suggestion in 1642 by Johannes Vervaux, confessor of Elector Maximilian 
of Bavaria, that the rule prohibiting Jesuits from participating in political 
affairs be modified, the General declared that there was no need for this. 
When a proper moral judgment or the formation of conscience required it, a 
Jesuit confessor could concern himself with matters of state and even be 
present at council meetings, provided that he remained silent and did not 
vote in the council. This Vervaux could take as "a rule of conduct." 

What Vitelleschi regularly opposed forcefully was Jesuits' holding 
government office or even appearing to hold it. The objection to this came 
out most evidently in a prolonged effort to end the various governmental 
activities of Hernando Salazar, confessor of the count-duke of Olivares, chief 
minister of Philip IV of Spain (1621-65). In 1631 Salazar resigned as confes- 
sor of Olivares to devote himself to other activities. According to the papal 
nuncio writing in 1631, he was the soul of the anti-Roman faction in 
Madrid; at the time he served prominently on a committee that prepared a 
report entitled "Abuses of Rome and the Nunciature." A specialist in 
finance, he was credited with the idea for the "papel sellado," a highly 
unpopular stamp tax. His role in the development of taxes made him "one 
of the most unpopular figures in Spain," and he was later satirized at the 
Madrid Carnival of 1637. 16 Clearly, this activity did not enhance the Soci- 
ety's reputation in Vitelleschi's eyes. 

On Salazar, see John H. Elliott, The Count-Duke of Olivares: The Statesman in 
an Age of Decline (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), 115, 141, 268 f., 416 f., 427- 
29, 556. 

10 4* Robert Bireley, S.J. 

Lamormaini, Contzen, and the Catholic Offensive in Germany 

Vitelleschi fully supported the militant Jesuits William Lamormaini 
and Adam Contzen, confessors of the Habsburg emperor Ferdinand II and 
Elector Maximilian of Bavaria, respectively, as they insistently supported, 
often in the face of opposition from governmental councilors, a campaign to 
roll back heresy in Germany. Both took office as confessor in 1624, saw 
their influence peak between 1629 and 1631, and then departed the scene in 
1635, Lamormaini through effective exclusion from politics by the new 
emperor and Contzen through death. 

Lamormaini, a native Luxemburger born in 1570, and Ferdinand II 
had become genuine friends. While the former served as rector of the Jesuit 
university in Graz from 1613 to 1621, the future emperor, who was at this 
time an archduke, governed the territory of Inner Austria from his residence 
there. Later in the early 1630s, at a trying time for both of them and when 
the latter was under heavy fire, Ferdinand reassured his confessor, in words 
that certainly harked back to the years in Graz, "So long, my Father, have 
we been companions through life, no one will separate us from each 
other." 17 

Three years after Ferdinand's election as Holy Roman Emperor in 
1619 and his move to Vienna, Lamormaini was named rector of the Jesuit 
college there and two years later the emperor's confessor. Shortly after his 
appointment as confessor, Vitelleschi forwarded to Lamormaini a copy of 
Aquaviva's Instruction, and he expressed his "incredible joy of soul" at the 
emperor's vow that "he would undertake whatever the circumstances seemed 
to permit" for the good of religion, "not only gladly but with great joy and 
pleasure." Ferdinand took this vow in the imperial chapel on the feast of the 
Annunciation, March 25, 1624, as Lamormaini reported to Vitelleschi. 

Nearly one thousand letters from Vitelleschi to Lamormaini survive 
in the Roman Archives of the Jesuits as registers, or draft copies, for the 
years 1624 to 1635. A number of these were letters of recommendation for 
Italian noblemen who sought a favorable reception as they passed through 
Vienna or a post in the imperial military. But many were of considerable 
political significance. Very little of the correspondence in the other direction, 
from Vienna to Rome, remains. 

Contzen, born in a village not far from Aachen in 1571, had taught 
theology principally in Wiirzburg and Mainz before being summoned to 
Munich by Maximilian of Bavaria. A prolific author, in 1620 Contzen 

Eustachius Sthaal, "Vita Lamormaini," Rome, in ARSI, Vitae 139, ft. 66, 121. 
The author of this manuscript life of 122 folios categorizes this quotation as approximate. 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •!• 11 

published a major work of political thought, the Ten Books on Politics, and 
this brought him to Maximilian's attention. Like Lamormaini a strong 
personality, shortly after his arrival in Munich he came into conflict with 
members of Maximilian's privy council over policy toward the Prince's rival, 
Frederick V, the deposed ruler of the Palatinate. Contzen assumed an 
uncompromising stand against concessions and prevailed over the elector's 
leading jurist, resulting in mutual written recriminations that required the 
personal intervention of the Prince to end them. The choleric Contzen 
sometimes branded his opponents at court as unchristian. He received 125 
letters from Vitelleschi during his term as confessor, but he seems to have 
written the General nearly once a week. 

Not infrequently complaints about the alleged political activity of 
Jesuits, especially the court confessors, reached Rome from other Jesuits in 
the field. Vitelleschi invariably stood by the confessor, except in the case of 
the French Jesuit Nicholas Caussin, who will be discussed later. The General 
realized that the confessors often found themselves in a delicate position. In 
1629 some Munich Jesuits asserted that many identified Contzen with some 
unpopular tax measures im- 
posed by Maximilian, and that 

this association impeded the 

Society's pastoral ministries. Nearly one thousand letters 

Vitelleschi then recommended from Vitelleschi to Lamormaini 

to Contzen that he attempt to survive in the Roman Archives 

keep secret his counsel to the of the Jesuits as registers, 

Prince and in controversial or draft copies y for the years 

matters, especially regarding ^624 to 1635. 

taxes, to consult with other 

Jesuits before giving the — — ^— ■ — — — -^^^^-^^^^— 

Prince an opinion. Contzen's 

offer to resign as confessor showed the seriousness of the situation. Satisfied 

with Contzen's explanation, which does not survive, Vitelleschi refused even 

to consider his resignation and instructed the provincial to take measures 

against Contzen's detractors in Munich. 18 

Catholic forces, surprisingly, posted a number of victories during 
the early period of the Thirty Years War, such as at the White Mountain 
outside Prague in 1620 or at Lutter am Barenberg in 1626, so that they 
controlled large areas of central and northern Germany by early 1628. 
Increasingly, Contzen, Lamormaini, and other militants discerned in these 
victories a divine summons to reclaim from the Protestants all the ecclesiasti- 


Bireley, Maximilian von Bayern, 49 f. 

12 * Robert Bireley, SJ. 

cal lands that the Protestants had seized— illegally, Catholics argued— since 
the Peace of Augsburg of 1555. 

On September 7, 1627, Contzen urged Maximilian to action. 
"Without a doubt the time is especially suitable. If it is allowed to pass 
unexploited, it will be difficult to recover it again. . . . On the other hand, 
[the only reason for] opposing [this venture] is . . . that it is hated [by the 
Protestants]. But because the cause truly is the cause of God, he will easily 
shelter you against the expressions of human hatred. The prayers and love of 
the Catholics will easily compensate for this hatred." 19 Lamormaini drew up 
plans for a vast expansion of the Society's influence throughout northern 
Germany through colleges to be financed from the revenues of the recovered 
Church lands. 20 

Finally, under date of March 6, 1629, Emperor Ferdinand II issued 
the fateful Edict of Restitution, in which the religious character of the war 
came most clearly to light. The Edict called for a massive transfer of Church 
property in the empire from Protestants back to Catholics and even threat- 
ened the viability of smaller Protestant states. For Contzen the goal of the 
war "consisted in the restitution of the ecclesiastical lands," as he wrote in a 

memorandum. But ominous signs pointed 
^^^^~ toward a change in the fortunes of war 

when the Swedish king Gustavus Adol- 
[The Catholic militants] phus landed wkh an army on the coast of 

argued that God had north Germany in July 1630 and started to 

given the Catholics a advance southward. 

providential opportunity From early June to mid _ Novem . 

to restore justice in the ber 1630j an electoral conV ention gathered 

empire, that is, to return - m Regensburg. Attending this meeting was 

to observance of the Peace tne emperor with the seven princes of the 
of Augsburg as interpreted empire who served as imperial electors. It 
by the Catholics. amounted to a European mini peace con- 

ference, and most European states includ- 
— ^^^^^^^^-^^^^— ^ ing Spain and France dispatched diplomats 

to protect their interests. Jesuits came too 
in the entourages of various princes, nearly thirty of them crowding as 
guests into the local Jesuit college. During the early days of the convention, 
Lamormaini and Contzen met with the Jesuit confessors of two other rulers, 
the prince-archbishops of Mainz and Cologne, at Amberg, a day's walk from 

19 Contzen to Maximilian, Sept. 7, 1627, Munich, Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, 
Kasten schwarz, 773. 

20 Sthaal, "Vita Lamormaini," in ARSI, Vitse 139, ft. 56-58. 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •!• 13 

Regensburg. Lamormaini reassured the German assistant in Rome, "God has 
been the helper and protector of the emperor up to now and will be, I hope, 
in the future." Reinhard Ziegler, confessor of Mainz, did not fully share this 
optimism. Contzen and Lamormaini acted as go-betweens for Maximilian 
and Ferdinand at a crucial point in negotiations, but they disagreed violently 
when the two princes proposed different schemes for the reorganization of 
the imperial military. Contzen later circulated a manuscript bitingly critical 
of both the Spanish and imperial armies, and his attacks on the Habsburgs 
with his acidic pen in the dark years that lay ahead drove Lamormaini to 
beseech Vitelleschi to dismiss him from the Society. Instead, the General 
made excuses for him. 

Despite the advance of Gustavus from the north, the Catholic states 
refused any compromise on the Edict of Restitution, and the Protestants 
manifested a similar stubbornness. This represented a victory for the Catho- 
lic militants led by Contzen and Lamormaini. They argued that God had 
given the Catholics a providential opportunity to restore justice in the 
empire, that is, to return to observance of the Peace of Augsburg as inter- 
preted by the Catholics. For the Catholic princes to refuse to respond to 
this summons was, in effect, to sin and to sully their reputation as defenders 
of the faith. 

In vain did Catholic moderates, including Ferdinand's first minister, 
Johann Ulrich von Eggenberg, argue that the wiser course called for some 
concessions to the Protestants in order to consolidate Catholic gains. They 
warned the Catholics not to push their advantage excessively. Theologically, 
the moderates contended that the militant position implied a divine revela- 
tion in support of it. To be sure, they agreed, God had called upon the 
Hebrews in biblical times to wage war against their enemies and promised 
his aid to them; but, in the face of the persistent assertions of militants, they 
denied that a parallel existed between the present situation and the religious 
wars of the Old Testament. Later, Maximilian of Bavaria attributed the 
failure to reach a compromise on the Edict at Regensburg to the opposition 
of the Jesuit militants. 21 

"Discurs uber des Reichs Statum," sometime after 1637, published in Dieter 
Albrecht, Die auswdrtige Politik Maximilians von Beyern 1618-1635 (Gottingen: 
Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1962), appendix, 379-81. 

14 •!• Robert Bireley, S.J. 


Militants also hoped for assistance from Catholic France, which 
intervened directly in the German conflict only in 1635 and then on the side 
of Sweden and the Protestant states. There did exist in France a party that 
tended to support the German Catholics, but Cardinal Richelieu, at the 
helm of French policy, generally sympathized with and supported the anti- 
Habsburg forces in the empire. As he viewed it, the German and Spanish 
Habsburgs used religion to cloak imperial ambitions. 

From 1626 to 1631 the Jesuit confessor of Louis XIII, Jean Suffren, 
shared the views of the cardinal, and he also rejected Lamormaini's concep- 
tion of the role of the confessor when Lamormaini suggested that they 
attempt to work together for a peace, for he perceived that this cooperation 
would be a victory for the militants in Germany. Suffren recognized Lamor- 
maini's zeal and good intentions; but he severely criticized Jesuits who, he 
wrote, abandoned the ministries proper to their vocation, like preaching, 
teaching, and hearing confessions, and became involved in politics. Such 
pursuits led them into activities foreign to their vocation, where their 
inexperience caused them to fall victim to deception and manipulation. This 
in turn undermined the credibility of their traditional ministries. Suffren 
then defended vigorously the policy of Richelieu in Italy, where it clashed 
with objectives of the emperor. 22 Throughout his tenure as confessor he 
cooperated with the cardinal, often reporting to Richelieu about the king's 
shifting moods when the cardinal and Louis were separated. 

The French Jesuits as well as Vitelleschi recognized their depen- 
dence upon Louis XIII and consequently on Richelieu. The Society faced 
ardent Catholic enemies in France among the parlementaires and diocesan 
clergy, who harbored Gallican sentiment and were suspicious of the Society's 
bond with Rome, and among university faculties, who resented the competi- 
tion of the Jesuit schools. The Society had been expelled from most of 
France from 1594 to 1603, and many Jesuits greatly feared a second expul- 
sion. They looked to the king and to the cardinal for protection. This 
explains why there is not one word of criticism of the cardinal in all Vitel- 
leschi's correspondence and why an unusual obsequiousness marks his letters 
to Richelieu. 

One Jesuit confessor of Louis, Nicholas Caussin, attempted to 
unseat Richelieu because he judged that the cardinal's policies were disrup- 

22 Suffren to Lamormaini, Jan. 9, 1630, in Les Papiers: Correspondance et papiers 
d'etat: Section politique exterieur, Empire allemand, by Armand-Jean du Plessis, cardinal de 
Richelieu, ed. Adolf Wild (Pans, 1982), vol. 1 (1616-29): 586-9, no. 306. 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •!• 15 

tive of peace efforts in Europe and imposed heavy burdens upon the French 
people, especially the poor. He held the office of confessor from March to 
December 1637, when he found himself dismissed, humiliated, and exiled to 
the college at Quimper in far-off Brittany until the death of the cardinal in 
1642 and Louis the next year. Neither Vitelleschi nor the French Jesuits gave 
him any public support. 23 Richelieu himself realized that he had badly 
misjudged Caussin when he appointed him confessor to the king on the 
basis of his Holy Court, first published in 1624 and frequently republished 
and translated throughout the seventeenth century. This hefty volume 
attempted to show how one could live the full Christian life in the world of 
the court. 


The Spanish count-duke of Olivares persistently criticized Lamorma- 
ini because of the confessor's opposition to Spanish policy, especially in the 
conflict over the succession in the strategically crucial linked-duchies of 
Mantua and Montferrat in northern Italy. After the duke died on Christmas 
Day, 1627, leaving no clear heir, both the Spaniards and the French aggres- 
sively championed their re- 
spective candidates. The issue — ^ - - 

was of great legal and political Suffren recognized LamormainVs zeal 
complexity, and it took on an ^ g 00 d intentions; but he severely 

European importance because criticized Jesuits who, he wrote, 

it involved the struggle of the abandoned the ministries proper to 

Spaniards and the French for ^ • .. /.» 7 • 

r . , , _ , _ their vocation, like preaching, 

control ot northern Italy. Re- , . , , . c . 

,. i teaching, and hearing confessions, 

sponding in part to papal »» . » » . T . . 

™o<.™ ^a ;« ™~ *~ f fl „ r „t and became involved in politics. 

pressure and in part to tear or r 

weakening the forces needed — ^ mm _ ___ 

to implement the Edict in the 

north, Lamormaini successfully obstructed for a time the efforts of the 

Spanish party in Vienna to gain imperial political and military support in 


In the fall of 1631 Olivares renewed his campaign to pressure 
Vitelleschi to restrict the activity of Lamormaini in Vienna. Seven prominent 
Spanish Jesuits were summoned to Madrid in mid-November. There the 
count-duke explained to them the king's grievances and threatened severe 

See Camille de Rochementeix, Nicholas Caussin, Confesseur de Louis XIII, et le 
Cardinal de Richelieu: Documents inedits (Paris, 1911), and the account in my forthcoming 
The Jesuits and the Thirty Years War. 

16 * Robert Bireley, SJ. 

measures if the Society did not take action. According to him, the Jesuits, 
despite all the benefits they had received from the Spanish Crown, colluded 
against Spanish interests. Lamormaini, and even Vitelleschi himself out of a 
desire to please the Pope, favored France. Olivares intimated that the 
support of the king of Spain might carry more weight, seeing that Spanish 
possessions contained twenty-four provinces of the Society. Should the 
fathers fail to act, Olivares promised measures that would increase royal 
control of the Society in Spain, such as the demand that a special commis- 
sioner of the Society be appointed with extensive responsibility for the 
Spanish Jesuits. 24 Furthermore, he warned that Spanish ministers of state 
would be forbidden to make their confession to Jesuits, because the fathers 
used the sacrament to exercise undue influence. One of the Jesuits present, 
the spiritual writer Louis de La Palma, advised Vitelleschi that the govern- 
ment was serious in its demands and urged him to avert harm to the Society 
in Spain. 

Vitelleschi calmly defended himself in a letter of February 7, 1632, 
to the seven Spanish Jesuits, and at the General's behest, Lamormaini wrote 
to both Olivares and to the king to explain his actions. Even though Oliva- 
res did not follow through with his threats, perhaps due to the influence of 
his new confessor, the Jesuit Francisco Aguado, the letters did not content 
him, and relations between Madrid and Vitelleschi remained cool, largely 
because of Lamormaini in Vienna. 

Reversal of Fortune in Germany 

Meanwhile, the program of the militants in Germany collapsed with 
the resounding victory of Gustavus Adolphus over the Catholic forces at 
Breitenfeld in Saxony in early September 1631. This battle saw the fortunes 
of war pass to the other side. Prior to it, the two major German states that 
had up to then stood with the emperor, Saxony and Brandenburg, went over 
to the Swedes, largely because of the Catholic refusal to make concessions 
regarding the terms of the Edict. Gustavus advanced into Bavaria in 1632 and 
for a time occupied Munich itself, compelling Maximilian, and Contzen with 
him, to flee to Braunau. 

This marked the nadir for the Catholic militants in Germany, and 
especially for Contzen and Lamormaini. Contzen defended his position in a 
long manuscript, "A Consideration on the Persecution of the Church in 

These measures were reminiscent of those threatened by Philip II in the 
previous century. 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •!• 17 

Germany." 25 Superiors prohibited its publication because of its sharp criti- 
cism of the German clergy, to whose sins Contzen attributed the Catholic 
defeat. Vitelleschi now cautioned him about excessive involvement in 
politics. 26 For Lamormaini the situation proved worse. The primate of 
Hungary, Cardinal Peter Pazmany, a former Jesuit and colleague of Lamor- 
maini at the university in Graz, reported that nearly the whole kingdom 
called for Lamormaini's dismissal from court. But Ferdinand remained loyal 
to him. 

At this time, Vitelleschi did raise questions with Lamormaini and 
criticize some of his actions. Complaints had been coming into Rome about 
him "from nearly all the prov- 
inces of Germany," Vitelleschi m _ mmmmm _^ ^^^^^^^^^^^_ 
wrote the confessor on Febru- 

ary 25, 1632. Many in Vienna Prior t0 his acceptance of the Peace, 

blamed the Jesuits for the war Ferdinand convoked a conference of 

and the calamities it brought; theologians in Vienna from February 

the superior of the professed 5 to 16, 1635, to determine whether 

house where Lamormaini re- he could sign it in good conscience. 

sided wrote in the same vein Lamormaini spoke more than any of 

to Rome. fa fa r twenty-three participants; 

__. M ,.,.., r but the great majority, including two 

Vitelleschi laid before ? •* . i -j • i • 

T • • i Jesuits, took sides against him. 

Lamormaini charges against J ° 

him without necessarily per- —————----———————— ^^^—^—^_ 

sonally espousing them, fol- 
lowing a procedure that he frequently employed when dealing with com- 
plaints against Jesuits. Lamormaini's frankness angered Spanish officials. But 
the main grievance, Vitelleschi indicated, was undue intrusion into political 
affairs. Not only did Lamormaini allegedly give his opinion on issues to 
Ferdinand and the competent ministers, he also canvassed support and 
aggressively attacked those in disagreement with him. When Ferdinand asked 
Lamormaini to query other Jesuits on an issue, the confessor sought to 
persuade them to his view; and if they did not come over to his way of 
thinking, he tried to prevent them from communicating their opinion to the 
emperor. This violated the Instruction for Confessors of Princes, Vitelleschi 

"De Persecutione Ecclesiae Christi per Germanism Consideration Munich, 
Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Jesuitica 81, ff. 126-226. 

Vitelleschi to Contzen, Jan. 10 and Apr. 10, 1632, in ARSI, Germanise 
Superioris 6, ff. 419, 448. 

18 4* Robert Bireley, SJ. 

reminded Lamormaini, which directed the confessor to consult with other 
Jesuits on difficult issues and encourage the ruler to do so too. 

Yet there was never any question of removing Lamormaini from 
office. Ferdinand would never have permitted it. At the height of Lamorma- 
ini's troubles, the emperor assured him, a I hope in my God, and I await the 
confusion of his enemies and of all the political councilors." At the triennial 
provincial congregation, or meeting, of the Austrian Province in April 1633, 
a few fathers raised their voices against Lamormaini, but Vitelleschi defended 
him as did many other Jesuits of the Austrian Province. 27 

Gradually, the military situation in the empire reached a certain 
balance, especially after the Catholic victory at Nordlingen in September 
1634, and this led eventually to the Peace of Prague of 1635. This agreement 
between the emperor and most of the German states, Protestant and Catho- 
lic, did not end the war, largely because of the active intervention of France 
that year in support of the Swedes and the unreconciled Protestant principal- 
ities; but it did represent the surrender of the militant Catholic program by 
both Ferdinand and Maximilian of Bavaria. Prior to his acceptance of the 
Peace, Ferdinand convoked a conference of theologians in Vienna from 
February 5 to 16, 1635, to determine whether he could sign it in good 
conscience. Lamormaini spoke more than any of the other twenty-three 
participants; but the great majority, including two Jesuits, took sides against 
him. They rejected his argument from divine providence; moreover, though 
many affirmed the need for theologians to lay down the relevant moral 
principles on war and peace, they considered that it was up to the lay 
councilors to apply them in practice. 

Contzen died that same year and Lamormaini saw his political 
influence greatly diminished, though he remained close to the emperor until 
Ferdinand's death in early 1637. 

According to the Jesuit Constitutions, a provincial congregation or meeting 
was to be held every three years. There the senior members of the province voted on two 
matters. They determined whether there was reason to convoke a general congregation 
representative of the whole Society, and they elected two representatives or "procurators" 
who would accompany the provincial superior to Rome and vote for the province on the 
need for a general congregation. They also carried with them a list of issues or "postulata" 
that the province congregation wanted to submit for discussion in Rome. 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War 4* 19 

Gans and Vervaux, New Confessors in Vienna and Munich 

The succeeding confessors in Vienna and Munich differed greatly 
from Lamormaini and Contzen, and from each other. 

Shortly after Ferdinand III became emperor in 1637, Johannes Gans 
became his confessor; previously he had held a position as preacher in Graz 
and then in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. Whereas austerity had 
marked Lamormaini, Gans obviously enjoyed a hearty dinner and drinks in 
the company of members of the court. Vitelleschi cautioned him to adopt a 
modest diet, urbanity of manner, and seriousness of conversation. At this 
time there were twelve Jesuit priests in all assigned to the court in Vienna as 
confessors or preachers, with six brothers to assist them. 

Complaints soon reached Rome about dissension at the professed 
house where the Jesuits of the court resided. The secretary of Malatesta 
Baglione, the nuncio in Vienna, sized up the situation accurately in a letter 
to the secretary of state on March 7, 1637, shortly after Gans's appointment. 
Lamormaini, he wrote, influenced the emperor by placing everything in the 
context of conscience. The new emperor asserted that he intended to 
proceed differently. At the Diet of Regensburg in 1641, Gans claimed that 
the Edict of Restitution was principally responsible for the troubles of the 
empire; it had been fashioned by a few well-intentioned and zealous but 
politically inexperienced advisers of the emperor. So Gans evaluated the 
centerpiece of Lamormaini's program for the restoration of Catholicism in 
the empire. 

As confessor, Gans continued to have access to the emperor, but he 
was excluded from political deliberations and was not on good terms with 
the principal minister, Maximilian von Trausmannsdorf. Gans accepted this 
situation, if reluctantly at times, and, unlike Lamormaini, he certainly never 
advocated a program. Overall, ecclesiastics enjoyed less influence in Vienna 
under Ferdinand III than they had under his father. 

Over in Munich Johannes Vervaux succeeded Contzen as confessor 
to Maximilian of Bavaria in 1635. In contrast to Gans, he was to enjoy at 
least as much influence as his predecessor. He periodically took part in 
sessions of the privy council, and even undertook at least one major diplo- 
matic mission for the prince, to Paris in 1645, a task never required of 
Contzen. But, unlike Contzen, he belonged to the moderate party in 
Munich and so represented a profound change. 

A native of Lorraine and a member of the Lower Rhenish Province, 
Vervaux had originally come to Munich as confessor to Elizabeth of Lor- 
raine, Maximilian's wife, in 1631. Like Contzen, he began to write the 
General nearly every week. Vitelleschi noted in 1633 that even though they 

20 4- Robert Bireley, SJ. 

both often reported the same facts, Vervaux frequently drew from them u a 
different hope or fear for the future." 

Vervaux finally completed the history of Bavaria, the Annals of the 
Bavarian People, a project that Maximilian had earlier assigned to several 
Jesuits. It was published in 1662, the year of Vervaux's death. 28 In his 
treatment of the Electoral Convention of Regensburg of 1630, Vervaux 
sharply criticized the militant Catholic councilors, including Contzen, 
though not by name, for their rigid position on the Edict, and he blamed 
them also for subsequent problems in the empire. Maximilian's adoption of a 
moderate position in 1635 was not owing to Vervaux, but the Jesuit was in 
sympathy with this change and evidently fostered it. In the coming decades 
he encountered severe opposition from some Jesuits, but Vitelleschi consis- 
tently upheld him. The superior general had silently moved over into the 
moderate camp. 

The Eighth General Congregation, 1645-1646 

Principally because of the seemingly endless war, no general congre- 
gation of the Society had convened since the Seventh General Congregation 
in 1615, which had elected Vitelleschi. The triennial province congregations 

of 1639 and 1642 manifested a growing 
^^-^— ^^- ■^^^~ sentiment for a general congregation, for 

never had there been such a long hiatus 

The death of Vitelleschi u—™-., ,u m t^~ q~™cU ~.™;r,™ 

' between them. Iwo bpanisn provinces 

on February 9, 1645, voted for one in 1639j and two French 

made It necessary to provinces did the same three years later. 

convoke a general Significant minorities in other provinces 

congregation to choose his called for one. The reasons that usually 

successor. proved persuasive against a congregation 

were the difficulties of conducting one dur- 
— — — — ^^^^^ ing the war and the lack of any real crisis 

in the Society. 29 Excessive national feeling 
and attachment to princes were cited as reasons both for and against a 
general congregation. A minority in the Austrian Province favored one in 
1639; they saw it as a chance to foster the fraternal unity that had character- 

2 The Annates Boicce gentis was published under the name of Johannes 
Adlzreiter, a Bavarian councilor, because Jesuit superiors feared the backlash from some 
positions expressed in the book, especially regarding the fourteenth-century Wittelsbach 
emperor Louis IV, whom the Pope had excommunicated. 

2 The Acta of the provincial congregations are found in the ARSI, 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •!• 21 

ized the early years of the Society and an opportunity to mitigate excessive 
allegiance to princes. A similar minority in the Upper German Province saw 
a congregation as a way to encourage harmony and understanding not only 
among Jesuits but among princes and states as well. 

But in both cases the majority thought otherwise. The Upper 
German Province feared requests from princes that would threaten the 
Society's freedom but be difficult to refuse. The French province of Aqui- 
taine weighed in against a general congregation on the grounds that it would 
turn into a forum for princely conflicts. Still, a minority from the province 
of Toledo in 1642 looked upon a general congregation as a way to foster 
international understanding through example. Three years later the two 
Rhenish provinces made the same point, and some members of the Lower 
Rhenish Province thought that a congregation would offer the opportunity 
to take measures against those Jesuits who mingled in politics. This issue did 
not turn up in the Acta of the provincial congregation of the South German 
Province, where the confessors had been most active in politics. 

Finally the death of Vitelleschi on February 9, 1645, made it 
necessary to convoke a general congregation to choose his successor. So on 
the following November 21, the ninety-two members of the Eighth General 
Congregation of the Society of Jesus assembled in Rome. From all over 
Europe they came, from countries as distant from one another as England is 
from Sardinia, as Spain from Lithuania. They even numbered six representa- 
tives from across the seas who were already in Europe on other business, 
one each from India, China, Japan, Mexico, New Granada (present-day 
Colombia), and Peru. The Eighth General Congregation, the first general 
congregation to be held since 1615, was to sit longer than any other general 
congregation, 145 days. 30 A principal issue that drew its attention was 
involvement of Jesuits in politics or, as the documents often read, in matters 
of "reason of state." The congregation promulgated no new legislation on 
the question, but its deliberations and the events that led up to them reveal 
the ambiguity and internal tensions that had long characterized the Society's 
policy. Nor are such ambiguity and tensions necessarily to be judged nega- 
tively. They may just "go with the territory,'' then and now. 

Provincial congregations were assembled in 1645 in preparation for 
the general congregation. Again, some provincial congregations deplored 
excessive national feeling. This appeared most vigorously in a postulate of 
the Upper Rhenish Province, which included the prince-archbishopric of 
Mainz, at that time ravaged by the war. 


Padberg et al., Matters, xv-xvi, 719 f. 

22 H* Robert Bireley, S.J. 

The most destructive plague of national sentiment appears in some areas to 
creep in to such a degree that not only does the legislation of the Constitu- 
tions and Rules against this vice seem to be minimized and little by little 
annulled, but also that we can fear that the hatred of kings and princes will 
be justly directed against us and that sometimes there will be a very great 
division of hearts within the Society itself. 

The Austrian Province also complained of exaggerated national sentiment as 
well as of Jesuit writings critical of princes and rulers. But there was little 
concern shown in the provincial congregations of 1645 about the direct 
participation of Jesuits in political affairs. 

Only a little more than a year before the opening of the general 
congregation in 1645, the cardinals had elevated Giovanni Battista Pamphili 
to the papal throne. Successor of the Barberini pope Urban VIII (1623-44), 
he took the name Innocent X (1644-55). The new pope took an unprece- 
dented action as the congregation initiated its sessions. Even before the 
traditional dispatch of the Society's vicar-general, Carlo Sangrio, to seek the 
Pope's blessing upon the congregation, Innocent presented him with a list of 
eighteen questions that the delegates were to take up before proceeding to 

the election of the new general. 31 This 
broke sharply with the normal procedure, 

rrtr .. 1 which called for the election of the new 

The congregation promul- . . - f , 

. , . , . superior general as the nrst item or busi- 

gated no new legislation r ^ . A , 

° y . , . ness at a congregation, rrancisco Aguado, 

on the question, but its dekgate from the province q{ Toled0j per . 

deliberations and the suaded the fathers to rem onstrate with the 

events that led up to them p opC) but i nn0 cent refused to alter his 
reveal the ambiguity and directive. 32 

internal tensions that had The p ope > s questlons forced the 

long characterized the Jesuits to reevaluate elements of the Jesuit 

society S policy. Constitutions themselves, such as the life 

term of the superior general and the man- 
ner of selecting local and provincial superi- 
ors. Our concern here is the second item 
on the list. The congregation was to consider "whether the Fathers of the 
Society did not involve themselves in secular matters and business more than 
the sacred canons and their own Constitutions permitted." The delegates 
then frequently distinguished, as did many of the documents, between 

For this list, see Antonio Astrain, Historia de la Compania de Jesus (Madrid, 
1916), 5:266 n. 2. 

32 Ibid., 264-71. 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •!• 23 

secular affairs involving more properly political activity and other secular 
matters, such as assisting family or friends in legal matters or interceding 
with princes on behalf of benefactors. Mingling in political affairs was 
considered the more serious offense, though the two types of activity often 
shaded into one another. The congregation dutifully appointed committees 
to take up each of the Pope's questions. 

None of the twenty opinions on political activity produced by the 
congregation's committees and preserved in the archives advocated new 
legislation, and nearly all called for stricter enforcement of the current 
legislation. This could be read as a criticism of Vitelleschi and a failure to 
take into consideration the situation in which he found himself during the 
war. But there were significant differences in the understanding of the 
current legislation and in the possibility of effective enforcement. Some of 
the most divergent views came from the empire. 

The three delegates from the Austrian Province, the province of 
Lamormaini, claimed that the Society had always been of one mind in this 
matter and any defects were failures of enforcement. 33 In fact, as we have 
seen, Johannes Gans, confessor to emperor Ferdinand III, did remain on the 
margins of politics. But Georg Schelzius, delegate from the neighboring 
Bohemian Province, which was also under Habsburg rule, asserted that 
many of the Jesuits at court, including educators of princes, offended against 
the Society's legislation, much to the scandal of all. He may have had more 
in mind personal deportment than political activity; there had been com- 
plaints about Gans's alleged carousing and participation in hunting parties. 
Schelzius's suggestion was that only men of humility and exemplary charac- 
ter be allowed to serve at court. 

Two delegates from the Upper German Province, Laurentius Forer 
and Nicasius Widuman, the provincial, submitted significant position papers. 
Forer, born in Lucerne in 1580, taught theology first at Ingolstadt and then 
for many years at Dillingen, where for twenty-seven years he was confessor 
to the militant prince-bishop Heinrich von Knoringen. As "Laurentius," 
Forer had earned a place on the list of the three Jesuits Gustavus Adolphus 
hoped to hang, Laurentius, Lamormaini, and Paul Laymann, author of The 
Way to Peace, which had provided a legal basis for the Edict of Restitution. 

But by this time Forer had moved away from his earlier militancy. 
In a paper written in 1639, he wrote that "from so many unhappy events of 
the war, it seems that it does not please God that the Catholic religion be 

Georg Turcovich, provincial, Michael Sumerkher, and Christian Berchiades 
were the three Austrian delegates. Material from the congregation is found in the ARSI, 
Congregationes, but it is piecemeal and much of it very difficult to read. 

24 •$• Robert Bireley, S.J. 

propagated in Germany by [force of] arms, so that another method of 
resisting heresy must be taken up." One way to counter heresy was more 
apostolic preaching, that is, sending out missionary preachers into both 
Catholic and non-Catholic areas. This was the practice of the Society in 
England, Ireland, Holland, India, and China, that is, in non-Catholic areas. 
So Boniface and Willibrord had planted the faith in Germany. According to 
Forer, the bishops of Augsburg and Constance had asked for such missionar- 
ies, and two priests had undertaken such preaching with success for two 
months, but there had been no follow-up. 34 

But according to the opinion Forer prepared for the congregation, 
one need do more than observe the prescriptions already in effect. These 
should be shown to the Pope, who should then be asked who in the Society 
had "enormously sinned and still did sin," so that he could be punished. But 
if the Pope could not name anyone, then it was evident that the Society was 
being falsely accused. "For it is clear, that councilors of princes, in order to 
divert resentment from themselves, often ascribe to members of the Society, 
and especially to confessors, certain actions that had never crossed the 
confessors' minds, as if they were their authors or advocates." The Pope at 
least ought to state clearly what activities were prohibited to Jesuits. 

Particularly instructive was the paper submitted by Nicasius Widu- 
man, provincial of the Upper German Province. His was a minority view, 
but it mirrored most clearly the practice of Vitelleschi, at least for Germany. 
He was the superior of Vervaux, who as confessor of Maximilian sat in on 
council meetings with Vitelleschi's approval and who had with the provin- 
cial Widuman's permission undertaken a mission to Paris earlier in 1645 to 
sound out the possibilities for a Franco-Bavarian truce. 35 Widuman ques- 
tioned whether activities such as peace negotiations, especially involving war 
with heretics, the imposition or abrogation of taxes, the expulsion of heretics 
from territories, the formation of alliances and the reconciliation of differ- 
ences among princes, and the mediation of marriages, were prohibited as 
matters of reason of state. These all seemed to him to be matters of con- 

One conjectures that the chief reason for not openly sending missionaries into 
Protestant territories of Germany to evangelize the population was that it challenged the 
right of reformation conceded to princes by the Peace of Augsburg and invited an influx 
of Protestant preachers into Catholic territories. Catholic priests were tolerated or 
operated clandestinely in some Protestant areas, especially cities; see, for example, 
Hermann Tiichle, ed., Acta S. C. de Propaganda Fide Germaniam spectantia: Die Protokolle 
der Propaganda Congregation zu deutschen Angelegenbeiten, 1622-1649 (Paderborn, 1962). 

This was precisely at the time of Vitelleschi's death. Gerhard Immler, Kurfurst 
Maximilian I. und der Westfalische Friedenskongress: Die bayeriscbe auswdrtige Politik vom 
1644 bis zum Ulmer Waffenstillstand (Munster, 1992), 62-83. 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •!• 25 

science for a prince and so to come within the purview of the confessor, 
who might then give his opinion in council. Might not Jesuits also under- 
take diplomatic missions in such matters, he asked, with the case of Vervaux 
clearly in mind? 

Widuman raised a further point that others also took up when he 
declared that the Society could not deny such services to princes without 
gravely offending them. Obviously, he was thinking of Maximilian. For the 
moment, Widuman advised the congregation to ask the Pope precisely what 
he considered to be prohibited to the Society, and to leave further discussion 
until after the election of the superior general. 

In stark contrast to Widuman was the view of Nithard Biber of the 
Upper Rhenish Province, just to the north, who was himself confessor of 
the prince-archbishop of Mainz. Biber recommended strictly prohibiting 
involvement in secular affairs. He wanted superiors to be vigorous (fortes) in 
implementing the Society's legislation. Later he angrily alerted the new 
superior general, Vincenzo 
Carafa, to Vervaux's alleged 

role in advocating the Treaty Widuman questioned whether 

of Ulm in March 1647, when activities such as peace negotiations, 

Maximilian broke temporarily especially involving war with 

with the emperor and con- heretics, ...the expulsion of heretics 

eluded a separate truce with r *•*•*/ r 

, JT . ^ from territories, the formation 

r ranee and Sweden. r „. , , ... . r 

of alliances and the reconciliation of 

Francisco Aguado, differences among princes, . . . were 

who was twice provincial of prohibited as matters of 

Toledo and confessor of the r t 

, , cm- r reason of state. 

count-duke or Ohvares rrom J 

1631 Until the COUnt-duke's —mm—mm—^—m^—m^^^mmmm^—^^—mm 

dismissal in 1643, regarded the 

question in much the same light. In his book Various Exhortations, Especially 
Doctrinal, published in 1641, he developed a theology of war. 37 From this it 
is evident that he did not consider the long war to be principally a confes- 
sional or religious conflict. For him the enemy were the French and the 
Dutch against whom the Spaniards were defending themselves. Conse- 
quently, he made no allowance for Jesuit political activity in cases where 
heretics or heresy was involved. As did several other delegates, he wanted 

Ibid., f. 561. See Carafa to Biber, May 4, 1647, in ARSI, Rheni Superioris 2, f. 
37. On Vervaux's role in preparing the Treaty of Ulm with France, see Immler, Kurfurst 
Maximilian /, 400 f., 427-29, 437-40, 443, 454, 475-77. 

37 Exhortationes varue doctrinales (Madrid, 1641), 424-34. 

26 •!• Robert Bireley, S.J. 

the congregation to prohibit the superior general from granting dispensations 
that would allow Jesuits to participate in political activities. His remark that 
"we have suffered severely from such dispensations" surely referred to the 
political activity of Lamormaini and Contzen, whose championship of the 
Edict of Restitution in Germany and whose Italian policy ran counter to 
Spanish interests. Aguado also drew attention to the damage to their spiri- 
tual lives that Jesuits caught up in politics normally suffered. 

But Vitelleschi had never considered it necessary to grant either 
Lamormaini or Contzen dispensations for their activities; these were in 
complete harmony with his understanding of the Society's directives. In fact, 
we have found no examples of Vitelleschi granting a formal dispensation to 
participate in political affairs, because he did not think it necessary when 
religion was at issue and because he came to recognize that conscience and 
politics frequently overlapped. 

Aguado also implied that Vitelleschi had offended the government 
in Spain and made it difficult for Jesuits there by apparently granting 
dispensations for political activity in the empire but forbidding it in Spain. 
The allusion here was to the former Superior General's long effort to 
prohibit Olivares's former confessor, Hernando Salazar, from serving as a 
councilor on economic affairs. But Vitelleschi was consistent, in that his 
prohibition was against Salazar's holding a political office. And religion was 
not a factor in his case. 

Two opinions survive from French Jesuits. Bartholomieu Jacquinot 
from the province of Champagne affirmed that it had always been and still 
was law in the Society that Jesuits should refrain from secular activities. This 
restriction should be communicated to the Pope. Jacquinot's statement 
represented the position of the Jesuits in France under Richelieu, who had 
been hurt by the affair of Caussin. His confrere from Aquitaine, Jean Ricard, 
shared this view, but he allowed for the situation when a prince virtually 
compelled a Jesuit to engage in political activity. In such cases, with the 
permission of the superior, such activity could be countenanced. 

This led to a theme that was picked up by a number of the dele- 
gates. It was not the Society that pushed Jesuits toward participation in 
political or diplomatic activity, but rather princes who pressured them to 
undertake it. Francesco Barreto, who had been on the China mission, agreed 
that Jesuits should refrain from secular activities "except for the respect [we 
owe to] princes, upon whom the preservation of the Society in their domin- 
ions depends." Perhaps there was an allusion here to the position of the 
Jesuits in the Chinese Empire. 

Nuno da Cunha of Portugal in a separate opinion took a similar 
position, implying that the Society sometimes needed to make concessions in 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •!• 27 

order to retain the support of princes for its ministries. Political missions or 
tasks were often requested of or imposed on Jesuits by princes and rulers 
who wanted to make use of their services, contended seven delegates, mostly 
Spaniards, in a joint opinion. They were less willing to accommodate princes 
and recommended that the Pope be asked to intervene to prevent princes 
from requiring their services. 

In their formal response to Innocent X, the fathers of the congrega- 
tion declared that it was their unanimous view that "the men of our Society 
should refrain from secular affairs foreign to the sacred canons and to our 
Constitutions, but that whatever can be prescribed in this matter has been 
decreed by previous general congregations." They then went on to outline 
the various Jesuit legislations on the matter, calling attention in particular to 
the Instruction for the Confessors of Princes, which prohibited confessors 
"from becoming involved in 

external and political matters, __ _^ ^ _^_^^ 
but [bade them] attend only 

to those matters which had to We should note that the Societ y did 

do with and pertained to the not hesitate to place a Jesuit 

prince's conscience." But here in the difficult position 

the congregation's response of court confessor y and it hoped 

failed to advert to the connec- to advance the Churchy and 

tion between matters of con- the Society's mission through him. 

science and political affairs 

that was at the root of much ~™^~^~—~~^^^^^^^^^^^^~^^~" 
of the difficulty. All that was 

needed, the congregation maintained, was strict adherence to the legislation 
in place, and after the election of the superior general, the fathers would 
discuss remedies for failures to carry out the current directives. They con- 
cluded by asserting that not rarely those who complained of Jesuit involve- 
ment in political matters wished to transfer blame from themselves to the 
Society, and that at other times Jesuits were practically forced to carry out 
the orders of princes that they could not easily refuse. 

After submitting its response to Pope Innocent, the congregation 
proceeded to the election of the superior general. On January 7 its choice 
fell on Vincenzo Carafa, of the famous Neapolitan family, who was then 
provincial of Naples, enjoying a reputation for preaching ability as well as 
for personal holiness of life. Subsequently, the congregation devoted most of 
its attention to the modifications of the Society's government urged by Pope 
Innocent. From February 21 to 26 the matter of Jesuit involvement in 
secular affairs was a subject of discussion; but the delegates seem to have 
realized the futility of promulgating a detailed decree on the matter and, in 

28 * Robert Bireley, SJ. 

fact, they left further action up to the new superior general. The Pope did 
not force the issue; he made no mention of it in the initial response he made 
to the Jesuits on January 1, 1646. 38 

Shortly after his election, in a circular letter to the whole Society 
entitled "On the Means of Conserving the Society's Primitive Spirit," Carafa 
emphasized the need to refrain from "the business of the world and temporal 
matters," citing the gospel passage where Jesus refused to serve as a judge 
(Luke 12:14); he went on to caution Jesuits about allowing themselves to be 
dragged into these matters by others, even by princes. But he said nothing 
specific about politics or matters of state. 39 His objective was to attempt to 
take a harder line than Vitelleschi, but in this he did not meet with much 
success. That is another story, however. 


As we look at the situation of the Society during the Thirty Years 
War and the policies adopted by the Eighth General Congregation, what can 
we learn for our own time, so different in culture and in social and political 

structures? First, we should note that the 
__________ ___ Society did not hesitate to place a Jesuit in 

the difficult position of court confessor, 
The Complementary and it hoped to advance the Church's and 

Norms encourage us to the Society's mission through him. In do- 

"involvement in civic ac- m g so, it followed Ignatius's example, who 

tivity" and to "participat- required either Miron or da Camara to 

ing in social mobiliza- take the P ost of confessor to Kin g J ohn m 

turn* but they prohibit a of Po™gf He ex P ected &* the conf f - 

i . ~ f... „ sor would exercise an influence on the 

role in partisan politics. . . . ... c .. . 

mr f « kine that would benefit all who were un- 

The line here may neces- , , , , , . £ „ , 

J der royal authority, and that specifically he 

sanly remain murky. would advance the cause of the Sockty>s 

mission in Ethiopia. Would Ignatius have 
directed one of the two Portuguese Jesuits 
to serve as confessor of the king had he been able to look ahead eighty 
years? Would he have been willing to submit Jesuits to the risks that went 
with a post at the center of political power had he foreseen the problems 
and in some cases the hostility that court confessors brought down upon the 
Society? I think that the answer would be yes. To respond to a question 

38 Constitution of Innocent X, Jan. 1, 1646, InstSI 1:177-79. 

39 Epistolce Pnepositorum Generalium Societatis Iesu (Ghent, 1847), 1:463, 465. 

The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War •!• 29 

implied at the start of this essay, the difficulties that arose were part of the 
price to be paid by a spirituality of work in the world. 

Yet the experience of the Society in the Thirty Years War and 
especially the fundamental ambiguity and even disagreement about what 
constituted improper involvement in politics for a Jesuit suggests strongly 
that we are not able to avoid this ambiguity and disagreement in our own 
more complex times. The Complementary Norms encourage us to "involve- 
ment in civic activity" and to "participating in social mobilization," but they 
prohibit a role in "partisan politics." The line here may necessarily remain 
murky. Discernment and consultation with superiors and others are called 
for, as well as recognition of the impact of actions in one country on the 
work of the Society elsewhere. Both Lamormaini and Caussin might have 
avoided problems had they consulted with others as Aquaviva's Instruction 

Finally, Jesuits must expect that there will be differences among 
them on social and political programs and policies. If that was the case in 
the seventeenth century, so will it be much more the case in the twenty- 
first, when the Society has become considerably more universal and finds 
represented within itself many more national and cultural viewpoints. Unity 
of thought on social and political issues may have been an ideal of Ignatius— 
I do not think that it was— but it has scarcely ever been the reality in the 
Society and certainly was not during the Thirty Years War. We must expect 
disagreements and differences among us in our more complex period of 
history. Our union of minds and hearts exists at a deeper level, in commit- 
ment to Christ and to the gospel values of the Exercises. 


Past Issues: Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 

(For prices, see inside back cover.) 

1/1 Sheets, Profile of the Contemporary Jesuit (Sept. 1969) 

1/2 Ganss, Authentic Spiritual Exercises: History and Terminology (Nov. 1969) 

2/1 Burke, Institution and Person (Feb. 1970) 

2/2 Futrell, Ignatian Discernment (Apr. 1970) 

2/3 Lonergan, Response of the Jesuit as Priest and Apostle (Sept. 1970) 

3/1 Wright, Grace of Our Founder and the Grace of Our Vocation (Feb. 1971) 

3/2 O'Flaherty, Some Reflections on Jesuit Commitment (Apr. 1971) 

3/4 Toner, A Method for Communal Discernment of God's Will (Sept. 1971) 

3/5 Sheets, Toward a Theology of the Religious Life (Nov. 1971) 

4/2 Two Discussions: I. Spiritual Direction, II. Leadership and Authority (Mar. 1972) 

4/3 Orsy, Some Questions about the Purpose and Scope of the General Congregation (June 1972) 

4/4 Ganss, Wright, O'Malley, O'Donovan, Dulles, On Continuity and Change: A Symposium 
(Oct. 1972) 

5/1-2 O'Flaherty, Renewal: Call and Response (Jan. -Mar. 1973) 

5/3 Arrupe, McNaspy, The Place of Art in Jesuit Life (Apr. 1973) 

5/4 Haughey, The Pentecostal Thing and Jesuits (June 1973) 

5/5 Orsy, Toward a Theological Evaluation of Communal Discernment (Oct. 1973) 

6/3 Knight, Joy and Judgment in Religious Obedience (Apr. 1974) 

7/1 Wright, Ganss, Orsy, On Thinking with the Church Today (Jan. 1975) 

7/2 Ganss, Christian Life Communities from the Sodalities (Mar. 1975) 

7/3 Connolly, Contemporary Spiritual Direction: Scope and Principles (June 1975) 

7/5 Buckley, The Confirmation of a Promise; Padberg, Continuity and Change in General 

Congregation XXXII (Nov. 1975) 

8/1 O'Neill, Acatamiento: Ignatian Reverence (Jan. 1976) 

8/2-3 De la Costa, Sheridan, and others, On Becoming Poor: A Symposium on Evangelical Poverty 
(Mar.-May 1976) 

8/4 Faricy, Jesuit Community: Community of Prayer (Oct. 1976) 

9/1-2 Becker, Changes in U.S. Jesuit Membership, 1958-75; Others, Reactions and Explanations 
(Jan.-Mar. 1977) 

9/4 Connolly, Land, Jesuit Spiritualities and the Struggle for Social Justice (Sept. 1977). 

9/5 Gill, A Jesuit's Account of Conscience (Nov. 1977) 

10/1 Kammer, "Burn-Out"— Dilemma for the Jesuit Social Activist (Jan. 1978) 

10/4 Harvanek, Status of Obedience in the Society of Jesus; Others, Reactions to Connolly-Land 

(Sept. 1978) 

11/1 Clancy, Feeling Bad about Feeling Good (Jan. 1979) 

11/2 Maruca, Our Personal Witness as Power to Evangelize Culture (Mar. 1979) 

11/3 Klein, American Jesuits and the Liturgy (May 1979) 

11/5 Conwell, The Kamikaze Factor: Choosing Jesuit Ministries (Nov. 1979) 

12/2 Henriot, Appleyard, Klein, Living Together in Mission: A Symposium on Small Apostolic 

Communities (Mar. 1980) 

12/3 Conwell, Living and E>ying in the Society of Jesus (May 1980) 

12/4-5 Schineller, Newer Approaches to Christology and Their Use in the Spiritual Exercises (Sept. -Nov. 

13/1 Peter, Alcoholism in Jesuit Life (Jan. 1981) 

13/3 Ganss, Towards Understanding the Jesuit Brothers' Vocation (May 1981) 

13/4 Reites, St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jews (Sept. 1981) 

14/1 O'Malley, The Jesuits, St. Ignatius, and the Counter Reformation (Jan. 1982) 

14/2 Dulles, St. Ignatius and Jesuit Theological Tradition (Mar. 1982) 

14/4 Gray, An Experience in Ignatian Government (Sept. 1982) 

14/5 Ivern, The Future of Faith and justice: Review of Decree Four (Nov. 1982) 

15/1 O'Malley, The Fourth Vow in Its Ignatian Context (Jan. 1983) 

15/2 Sullivan and Faricy, On Making the Spiritual Exercises for Renewal of Jesuit Charisms (Mar. 


15/3-4 Padberg, The Society True to Itself: A Brief History of the 32nd General Congregation of the 

Society of Jesus (May-Sept. 1983) 

Tetlow, Jesuits' Mission in Higher Education (Nov. 1983-Jan. 1984) 

O'Malley, To Travel to Any Part of the World: Jeronimo Nodal and the Jesuit Vocation (Mar. 


16/3 O'Hanlon, Integration of Christian Practices: A Western Christian Looks East (May 1984) 

16/4 Carlson, "A Faith Lived Out of Doors": Ongoing Formation (Sept. 1984) 

16/5 Kinerk, Eliciting Great Desires: Their Place in the Spirituality of the Society of Jesus (Nov. 1984) 

17/1 Spohn, St. Paul on Apostolic Celibacy and the Body of Christ (Jan. 1985) 

17/2 Daley, "In Ten Thousand Places": Christian Universality and the Jesuit Mission (Mar. 1985) 

17/3 Tetlow, Dialogue on the Sexual Maturing of Celibates (May 1985) 

17/4 Spohn, Coleman, Clarke, Henriot, Jesuits and Peacemaking (Sept. 1985) 

17/5 Kinerk, When Jesuits Pray: A Perspective on the Prayer of Apostolic Persons (Nov. 1985) 

18/1 Gelpi, The Converting Jesuit (Jan. 1986). 

18/2 Beirne, Compass and Catalyst: The Ministry of Administration. (Mar. 1986) 

18/3 McCormick, Bishops as Teachers and Jesuits as Listeners (May 1986) 

18/5 Tetlow, The Transformation of Jesuit Poverty (Nov. 1986). 

19/1 Staudenmaier, United States Technology and Adult Commitment (Jan. 1987) 

19/2 Appleyard, Languages We Use: Talking about Religious Experience (Mar. 1987) 

19/5 Endean, Who Do You Say Ignatius Is? Jesuit Fundamentalism and Beyond (Nov. 1987) 

20/1 Brackley, Downward Mobility: Social Implications of St. Ignatius's Two Standards (Jan. 1988) 

20/2 Padberg, How We Live Where We Live (Mar. 1988) 

20/3 Hayes, Padberg, Staudenmaier, Symbols, Devotions, and Jesuits (May 1988) 

20/4 McGovern, Jesuit Education and Jesuit Spirituality (Sept. 1988) 

20/5 Barry, Jesuit Formation Today: An Invitation to Dialogue and Involvement (Nov. 1988) 

21/1 Wilson, Where Do We Belong? United States Jesuits and Their Memberships (Jan. 1989) 

21/2 Demoustier, Calvez, et al., The Disturbing Subject: The Option for the Poor (Mar. 1989) 

21/3 Soukup, Jesuit Response to the Communication Revolution (May 1989) 

22/1 Carroll, The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (Jan. 1990) 

22/2 Bracken, Jesuit Spirituality from a Process Prospective (March 1990) 

22/3 Shepherd, Fire for a Weekend: An Experience of the Exercises (May 1990) 

22/4 O'Sullivan, Trust Your Feelings, but Use Your Head (Sept. 1990) 

22/5 Coleman, A Company of Critics: Jesuits and the Intellectual Life (Nov. 1990) 

23/1 Houdek, The Road Too Often Traveled (Jan. 1991) 

23/2 DiGiacomo, Ministering to the Young (March 1991) 

23/3 Begheyn and Bogart, A Bibliography on St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises (May 1991) 

23/4 Shelton, Reflections on the Mental Health of Jesuits (Sept. 1991) 

23/5 Toolan, "Nature Is a Heraclitean Fire" (Nov. 1991) 

24/1 Houdek, Jesuit Prayer and Jesuit Ministry: Context and Possibilities (Jan. 1992) 

24/2 Smolich, Testing the Water: Jesuits Accompanying the Poor (March 1992) 

24/3 Hassel, Jesus Christ Changing Yesterday, Today, and Forever (May 1992) 

24/4 Shelton, Toward Healthy Jesuit Community Living (Sept. 1992) 

24/5 Cook, Jesus' Parables and the Faith That Does Justice (Nov. 1992) 

25/2 Donahue, What Does the Lord Require? (March 1993)— ONCE AGAIN AVAILABLE 

25/3 Padberg, Ignatius, the Popes, and Realistic Reverence (May 1993) 

25/4 Stahel, Toward General Congregation 34 (Sept. 1993) 

25/5 Baldovin, Christian Liturgy: An Annotated Bibliography (Nov. 1993) 

26/1 Tetlow, The Most Postmodern Prayer (Jan. 1994) 

26/2 Murphy, The Many Ways of Justice (March 1994) 

26/3 Staudenmaier, To Fall in Love with the World (May 1994) 

26/4 Foley, Stepping into the River (Sept. 1994) 

26/5 Landy, Myths That Shape Us (Nov. 1994) 

27/1 Daley, "To Be More like Christ" (Jan. 1995) 

27/2 Schmidt, Portraits and Landscapes (March 1995) 

27/3 Stockhausen, I'd Love to, but I Don't Have the Time (May 1995) 

27/4 Anderson, Jesuits in Jail, Ignatius to the Present (Sept. 1995) 

27/5 Shelton, Friendship in Jesuit Life (Nov. 1995) 

28/1 Begheyn, Bibliography on the History of the Jesuits (Jan. 1996) 

28/2 Veale, Saint Ignatius Speaks about "Ignatian Prayer" (March 1996) 

28/3 Clooney, In Ten Thousand Places, in Every Blade of Grass (May 1996) 

28/4 Starkloff, "As Different As Night and Day" (Sept. 1996) 

28/5 Beckett, Listening to Our History (Nov. 1996) 

29/1 Hamm, Preaching Biblical Justice (Jan. 1997) 

29/2 Padberg, The Three Forgotten Founders (March 1997) 

29/3 Byrne, Jesuits and Parish Ministry (May 1997) 

29/4 Keenan, Are Informationes Ethical? (Sept. 1997) 

29/5 Ferlita, The Road to Bethlehem-Is It Level or Winding? (Nov. 1997) 

30/1 Shore, The Vita Christi of Ludolph of Saxony and Its Influence on the Spiritual Exercises of 

Ignatius of Loyola (Jan. 1998) 

30/2 Starkloff, "I'm No Theologian, but . . . (or So . . . )?" (March 1998) 

30/3 Torrens, The Word That Clamors (May 1998) 

30/4 Petnk, "Being Sent" (Sept. 1998) 

30/5 Jackson, "One and the Same Vocation" (Nov. 1998) 

31/1 Clifford, Scripture and the Exercises (Jan. 1999) 

31/2 Toohig, Physics Research, a Search for God (March 1999) 

31/3 Fagin, Fidelity in the Church— Then and Now (May 1999) 

31/4 Schineller, Pilgrim Journey of Ignatius (Sept. 1999) 

31/5 Fullam, Juana, S.J.: Status of Women in the Society (Nov. 1999) 

32/1 Langan, The Good of Obedience in a Culture of Autonomy (Jan. 2000) 

32/2 Blake, Listen with Your Eyes (March 2000) 

32/3 Shelton, When a Jesuit Counsels Others (May 2000) 

32/4 Barry, Past, Present, and Future (Sept. 2000) 

32/5 Starkloff, Pilgrimage Re-envisioned (Nov. 2000) 

33/1 Kolvenbach et al., Faith, Justice, and American Jesuit Higher Education (Jan. 2001) 

33/2 Keenan, Unexpected Consequences: Parsons's Christian Directory (March 2001) 

33/3 Arrupe, Trinitarian Inspiration of the Ignatian Charism (May 2001) 

33/4 Veale, Saint Ignatius Asks, "Are You Sure You Know Who I Am?" (Sept. 2001) 

33/5 Barry and Keenan, How Multicultural Are We? (Nov. 2001) 

34/1 Blake, "City of the Living God" (Jan. 2002) 

34/2 Clooney, A Charism for Dialog (March 2002) 

34/3 Rehg, Christian Mindfulness (May 2002) 

34/4 Brackley, Expanding the Shrunken Soul (Sept. 2002) 

34/5 Bireley, The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War (Nov. 2002) 



An annual subscription is provided by the ten United States provinces 
for U.S. Jesuits living in the United States and U.S. Jesuits who are still 
members of a U.S. province but living outside the United States. 


Subscriptions to STUDIES: 

U.S.: one-year, $18; two years, $35 

Canada and Mexico: one year, $26; two years, $50 

All other destinations: one year, $29; two years, $55 

*** All payments must be in U.S. funds. *** 


w> Jesuit subscribers: Your province office should send us your change of 

address; you need not do so. 
)»* Non-Jesuit subscribers: Change-of-address information (please include 

former address label if possible) should be sent to Address 



Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality 

Faber House 

102 College Road 

Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3841 
Tel: 617-552-0860 
Fax: 617-552-0925 



Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 

3601 Lindell Boulevard 

St. Louis, MO 63108 
Tel: 314-977-7257 
Fax: 314-977-7263 

> SINGLE ISSUES (Current or Past): 

The price for single copies of current or past issues is $3.00, plus 
postage and handling charges. Double issues (for example, 5/1-2, 8/2-3, 9/1-2, 
etc.) are $6.00 each, plus postage and handling. 

The Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality 
3601 Lindell Boulevard 
St. Louis, MO 63108 

U.S. Postage 


St. Louis, Missouri 
Permit No. 63 

*********************************************MIXED ADC 63203